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OPINION: Lessons from Obiano’s Final Budget Presentation as Governor of Anambra State

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Any student of politics will recall that one of the most distinguishing features of political power is that it is transient.

Every kin observer must have taken careful note of the significance of all that transpired yesterday (October 14) during governor Obiano’s presentation of the 2022 draft estimate to Anambra State House of Assembly. It is like watching a replay of a defined end. For some of us, it is an opportunity to sit back and observe how it feels to be at the point of exiting powerful political office, but even more importantly, how people tend to treat someone about leaving an important political office. In all, it was an experience filled with lessons for all political officeholders. Any student of politics will recall that one of the most distinguishing features of political power is that it is transient. That is to say that it just disappears. No matter how long you are able to keep it, no matter how comfortable one gets with it, it is just as certain as day and night, pass away. These are lessons that expose the hypocrisy of not just politicians, but human beings, especially in our clime.

All the thirty members of the Anambra State House of Assembly are fully aware that the governor is coming to present the 2022 budget to the House. Governor Obiano has done this for about seven years or in short for seven times before that of yesterday. In my experience, any day the governor is coming for a budget presentation is a special day and rightly so. Usually, the House gets to its business around 10 in the morning, and before the governor’s arrival about an hour later around 11am, the House is completely set and prepared to receive the governor. As a matter of fact, any day of the budget presentation, the business of the day for the House is all about that budget presentation by the governor. But for the very first time, till almost 11 in the morning of yesterday, House members were still strolling into the complex. In fact, they gathered and started taking photographs and an argument ensued.

The argument lasted for a better part of twenty minutes, by which time the governor’s convoy was already in the Assembly complex, almost thirty minutes before the governor’s advanced team had arrived at the complex at which time only a handful of members were around. Upon Governor Obiano’s arrival, the members were still having their photographs and this lasted for another fifteen or twenty minutes, while the governor waited in his car. When they finished, they all moved at their own pace into the plenary for the business of the day. Then the governor allowed them to settle and about fifteen minutes later, he came out of his vehicle and went into the plenary for the business of the day.

This would be the very first time the governor is coming to the Assembly and waiting for the members to finish sometime as, if you like, trivial, as taking photographs, and having to wait for as much as close to an hour before he conducts his business with the House. Note that ordinarily, in the instance where the legislature and the executive enjoy equal or similar, but mutual dignity and respect, this may not matter at all. But here is a system in which the legislature has been configured by the members themselves, to be at the service of the governor. The only reason that justifies the attitude of the lawmakers yesterday was that governor Obiano will cease to be governor in a few months. In other words, they are just passing a message that his time is up. The governor himself, even when he came out of the vehicle, despite his already busy schedule, which time spent waiting on the House members had already started to distort, he looked calm and relaxed; a little more yielding and conforming to the reality that he is now almost a former governor of Anambra state. Observing all these, it is not so easy to articulate exactly how I should feel for the governor or for the legislators, many of whom may have seen the governor as their own oppressor, rightly or wrongly.

Now during the governor’s long speech, which understandably is his last budget speech and a summary of his eight-year stewardship, occasionally some House members will look at each other and laugh in mockery of diverse claims as proof of his administration’s efforts at developing Anambra state. Many of these members were the same people who called the governor all sorts of names in admiration and exaltation. But then, the governor, not seeming to notice, continued in his calm and almost sober tone of voice reading his speech till the 14th and final page, in an unusually serious and focused demeanor. Then during the closing remarks by Hon. Obinna Emeneka in which he said that he knows the governor will miss the House and that he was sure the House will miss the governor, the reaction was unambiguous.

Very clearly, the impression by House members is that they will not miss the governor. Apparently, House members were happy to have kept the governor waiting for that long because like many of them say, “let him wait for us. When we go to see him he keeps us waiting too”. The point really is that at this moment, it is clear that Governor Obiano has absolutely nothing on the members. In other words, the members do not need him for anything, politically speaking. At least, they still have two years before their own exit. However, it is the governor who needs them and he has not more than five months to the end of his tenure. The Governor needs them to pass the 2022 budget and to make his exit smoother. He needs them to cooperate with him politically ahead of the November 6 gubernatorial election. Governor Obiano acknowledged this in his speech when he said thus; “Bearing in mind that this is an election year, our hope is that you will continue to work with the executive and give the budget an accelerated consideration”. The import of that comment is that the governor understands that there is a shift in power equation and he no longer holds a position of advantage over the House members and in which case, the members may wish to hold the budget hostage or altogether sabotage him by other means.

Recently, many members of the Assembly have joined APC from APGA for various degrees of discontent with the party and its leadership. The development, along with other high and low profile defection from APGA to APC, has suddenly put the APC in a rare position of advantage ahead of the November governorship contest. In the final analysis, Governor Obiano is leaving office in five months after eight years. Right now, he is likely preoccupied with having a conversation with himself to be sure he truly did his best. But those who feel wrongly treated by the governor or by the government under his watch will not stop at anything less than dangling the vanity of power in his face. Power victimizes both those that have it and those whom it oppresses.

♦ Ebuka Onyekwelu, strategic governance exponent,  is a columnist with the WAP

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Nigeria

45 Million Women Lack Access To Family Planning In Nigeria

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The Country Director of an international non-governmental organisation, Marie Stopes Nigeria, has expressed concerns that about 45 million active women of childbearing age lack access to family planning and sexual reproductive health services in the country.

Effiom  Effiom, made the revelation in Abuja Monday during a two-day sexual reproductive health workshop his organization, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, organised for traditional and religious leaders.

He said lack of access to facilities for family planning and sexual reproductive health services, lack of commodities at health facilities, coupled with other traditional and religious barriers has contributed to the high maternal mortality rates in the country.

Effiom said the workshop was organised to engage traditional and religious leaders to appreciate critical issues affecting provision and uptake of quality reproductive health services.

Mamman Mahmuda, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, believed that traditional and religious leaders have a role to play towards promoting advocacy and supporting demand generation for sexual reproductive health services and rights to reduce maternal and infant mortalities in Nigeria.

 

 

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Nigeria

Orji Kalu Visits Nnamdi Kanu In DSS Custody, Promises To Keep Counseling Him

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The Chief Whip of the Nigeria Senate and former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has visited the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, in the custody of the Department of State Services on Monday afternoon.

Kalu, in a statement personally signed by him and made available to our correspondent in Abuja, said the IPOB leader was in good health and under proper care.

The former governor of Abia State added that he spoke with Kanu as a brother and told him the need to consider the consequences of certain actions that he would be taking.

Kalu said, “This afternoon, I visited my brother, Maazi Nnamdi Kanu in DSS custody, Abuja.

“I met him in good health and care and we discussed as ‘Umunne’.

“In 2001 when I was Governor, I made his father Eze Israel Okwu Kanu, the traditional ruler of Akwara Ukwu and since then the family has been very close to me.

” I understand that Nnamdi has an insane amount of people rooting for his back home and I encouraged him to consider the consequences of certain actions and utterances for the sake of the same people.

“Even though my ideology and his ideology are totally different, God has made us brothers and we can’t run away from each other.

“I owe him and Nigerians good counselling whether he and his family listen to me or not.

“I will continue to counsel him as I have always done in the past. What we need most is a peaceful and secured society.”

 

 

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Nigeria

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, Steps Down After 16 Years

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The Chief Executive Officer of microblogging platform Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has resigned.

He announced his resignation on Monday, after 16 years of co-founding the social media company.

“I resigned from Twitter,” he wrote and posted a screenshot of his resignation letter sent to Twitter.

He also announced Parag Agrawal as his successor.

Dorsey has not been in the good books of the Nigerian government since October 2020, over an allegation that he was complicit in the promotion of the EndSARS protests that ended in the destruction of lives and billions of property in Nigeria.

In June 2021, the administration of Muhammadu Buhari (retd), suspended Twitter, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. The Federal Government’s action followed a deletion of a controversial civil war post by the President.

Buhari had since come under fire for what many termed as a restriction of the right of expression. The international community including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, amongst others had since knocked the Buhari regime for the action but the Federal Government had been unyielding in its stance insisting that the sovereignty of the West African nation must be respected by the San Francisco tech giant.

Millions of content creators in Nigeria, who earn their living from the microblogging site, have been affected as they are forbidden from using Twitter. Some of them have since embarked on a journey of diversification while exploring other social media platforms.

Nigeria, with over 200 million people, had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021. WhatsApp is the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista. Also according to Statista, about 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger.

Read The Full Resignation Letter Below

Hello Team.

After almost 16 years of having a role at our company…..from co-founder to CEO to Chair to Exec Chair to interim-CEO to CEO…I decided it’s finally time for me to leave. Why?

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led.’ Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders. There are 3 reasons I believe now is the right time.

The first is Parag becoming our CEO. The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone-deep.

The second is Bret Taylor agreeing to become our board chair, I asked Bret to join our board when I became CEO, and he’s been excellent in every way. He understands entrepreneurship, taking risks, companies at massive scale, technology, product, and he’s an engineer. All of the things the board and the company deserve right now. Having Bret in this leadership role gives me a lot of confidence in the strength of our board going forward. You have no idea how happy this makes me!

The third is all of you. We have a lot of ambition and potential on this team. Consider this: Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he’s our CEO (I also had a similar path…he did it better!). This alone makes me proud. I know that Parag will be able to channel this energy best because he’s lived it and knows what it takes. All of you have the potential to change the course of this company for the better. I believe this with all my heart!

Parag is CEO starting today. I’m going to serve on the board through my term (May-ish) to help Parag and Bret with the transition. And after that…I’ll leave the board. Why not stay or become chair? I believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead. And back to my previous point, I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction.

I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company…and all of you so much. I’m really sad……yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.

We’ll have an all-hands meeting tomorrow at 9:05 AM Pacific to discuss it all. Until then, thank you all for the trust you’ve placed in me, and for the openness to build that trust in Parag and yourselves. I love you all.

 

 

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